friendamour (noun) – a close friend of a partner that’s a lot like a metamour in terms of importance
“Page, you have to help me,” he says to me.
“What’s going on?”
“I’m losing my mind. I’ve never been so nervous,” he says to me.
“Honey,” I say. “You need to tell me what’s going on. I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s going on.”
He tells me he’s going out with his partner later that evening. Not a big deal in and of itself. They’ve been dating a while, and things are going really well. There’s just one big difference: This time they’re going to have company.
“We’re meeting up with her best friend.” They’re so close they’re basically sisters, he says. This friend has been there through it all, his partner’s entire dating life. And this friend has some pretty strong opinions about who which exes have been trash and which have been treasure, ones she’s not afraid to share.
Normally he would have met her a lot sooner, but this best friend moved out of state a while back and hasn’t been back in town to visit.
“Until now,” my friend says in a booming movie announcer voice. You know the one I mean. The one that signals earth-shaking conflict.
“And you’re worried that you won’t measure up? That you’ll get thrown into the trash bin instead of the treasure chest?”
My friend nods. “Exactly.”
“You know,” I say. “Maybe it’s kind of weird, but this reminds me of the time you were worrying about a possible relationship veto from your metamour.” Because he really did have some similar anxieties a while back. At a point in his life when he was concerned that his partner’s other partner might pull an “it’s me or them.” Tell his partner to break up with him.
That never ended up happening (although I know he worried about it, his metamour was all over the place for a while, and I wasn’t sure what she’d end up doing). Instead, he went on to realize that he wasn’t actually as into that partner as he thought and ended up breaking up with that partner on his own terms. But the worry about impending veto was very real before things took that other, unexpected direction.
“Oh wow,” he says. “Okay. This feels just like that. That’s just… wow.”
Not a Metamour, Not Just a Random Friend, But a Friendamour
We talk a bit longer about how you’re going to run into external influences, no matter the structure of your relationship. Whether you’re poly, mono, ambi, or something else, relationships don’t exist in a social vacuum.
My personal history with metamours has been a mixed bag. I’ve had some really wretched ones, and I’ve also had some metamours who were gracious, lovely. Some of the best friends I’ve ever had.
Yes, in polyamorous relationship systems, especially if everyone is dating actively, you might encounter a difficult metamour or two, ones that really test your resolve.
But no relationship structure is really immune to the strain that can originate from other social relationships that your partner has. Sometimes your partner’s family members cause atmospheric stress and function with an intensity that can rival a difficult metamour. When they talk badly about you. Attempt to interfere in your relationship. Or even tell your partner they should break up with you.
And it’s possible to have one of your partner’s friends, too, essentially function a bit like a difficult metamour. Especially if you’re dating someone who is estranged from their family of origin and has primarily chosen family.
Meeting a friend like this can feel very high-stakes indeed.
Because they aren’t a metamour, no. But they don’t exactly feel like just a random friend. Instead, they’re like a friendamour.
If You Know How to Meet a Friendamour, You Know How to Meet a Metamour
“Thanks,” he says.
“For what?” I say.
“I’m way less nervous about meeting my friendamour.”
“But I didn’t give you any advice or anything,” I say.
“You didn’t have to,” he says. “Because I didn’t think I’d done this before, but actually I have. I have practice meeting metamours. And I know how to handle it if we don’t get along for some reason. I thought this was new territory, but actually it isn’t.”
I smile. “Oh good.”
“You know,” he says. “I bet in works in reverse, too.”
“Like… people who are scared about meeting their metamours can think back on times they met friendamours or family, and they can realize it’s not all that different from that?”
“Come to think of it, it’s really the Friend Hat again, just spun and remixed a bit,” I say.
The Friend Hat is one of my favorite reframes when problem-solving polyamorous relationship systems (whether on my own or helping someone else):
- What would I do if we weren’t sharing a lover but a best friend?
- Would I have concerns if a close friend were dating this person?
- Would what I’m asking from my partner be reasonable if I was asking this of a close friend?
“Exactly,” he says. “You should write about that. How meeting a friendamour is like meeting a metamour, and vice versa,”
“You know,” I say. “I think I will.”
My new book is out!
Dealing with Difficult Metamours, the first book devoted solely to metamour relationships, full of strategies to help you get along better with your partners’ other partner(s).